Neither Montini nor MacEachern were on board with this story back when The Republic was first groping around trying to decide if it was in the paper’s interests to pursue leads from mere bloggers trying to get bigger fish to notice. This correspondent passed along a request from a reporter for The Republic to speak with whistleblowers back on January 4, 2011, when that solicitation was received based on exclusive early reporting in this column and at the Sipsey Street Irregulars blog:
"I'm interested in the recent blogs in which you indicated that ATF ‘walked’ several hundred AKs and ARs across the border, including one that may have been used to kill Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry," we were informed by the paper. "If you have information or a source that you'd be willing to share, I'm very interested."
This was common in those early days, with “real reporters” wanting us to give up our sources without earning them, including a self-entitled CNN producer who almost got hung up on with his airs that he was doing us a favor by talking with us and expecting us to turn everything over to him so that he could decide if it was worth any more if his precious time. It was also a month and a half before we were initially approached by CBS News (on February 16, 2011) with a similar request a week before they aired the first in a series of reports on February 23.
The attitude was typified by Michael Isikoff who basically said, "okay, the professionals are here now. You give us your sources and we'll figure out where you're lying." Even so, we passed his contact request done the email chain and one whistleblower said in response, "Don't send me anything from that arrogant prick again." (Some expletives deleted.)